Avijja translated as "Insentience"

Exploring modern Theravāda interpretations of the Buddha's teaching.
Garrib
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Avijja translated as "Insentience"

Post by Garrib » Tue Aug 22, 2017 2:13 am

Bhante Punnaji speaks in this video ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOtP4S4nm_k ) about his translation of avijja as "insentience" rather than "ignorance" (although he does say that ignorance makes sense in so far as it means "not knowing the Four Noble Truths"). I tried to make sense of this, thought I was getting somewhere for a minute, and then realized I didn't really understand what he was getting at.

Can anyone help me understand the meaning of this? - do you think this is a valid interpretation?

Thank you!

Brad

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pilgrim
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Re: Avijja translated as "Insentience"

Post by pilgrim » Tue Aug 22, 2017 4:41 am

Insentience would commonly mean being Unconscious or without Consciousness which would not make sense in the context of Buddhism. But it is quite common for Bhante to come out with new and quirky interpretations for common Buddhist terms.

Garrib
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Re: Avijja translated as "Insentience"

Post by Garrib » Tue Aug 22, 2017 4:53 am

pilgrim wrote:Insentience would commonly mean being Unconscious or without Consciousness which would not make sense in the context of Buddhism. But it is quite common for Bhante to come out with new and quirky interpretations for common Buddhist terms.
Thanks for the response Pilgrim,

I basically understand what the word means, in normal usage. What I am trying to figure out is in what way dependent origination makes sense if you think of the first link as "insentience." I saw a thread about this at sutta central - there were only a couple of replies, and no one seemed to really offer a satisfactory answer. I'm hoping someone can help to make sense of this.

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Re: Avijja translated as "Insentience"

Post by DooDoot » Tue Aug 22, 2017 5:25 am

The speaker is simply translating 'avijja' as 'insentience' or 'unconsciousness' rather than 'ignorance'. This novel translation does not change anything because being unconscious of the four noble truths is the same as being ignorant of the four noble truths, as follows:
Katamā ca, bhikkhave, avijjā? Yaṃ kho, bhikkhave, dukkhe aññāṇaṃ, dukkhasamudaye aññāṇaṃ, dukkhanirodhe aññāṇaṃ, duk­kha­nirodha­gāminiyā paṭipadāya aññāṇaṃ. Ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, avijjā.

And what, bhikkhus, is insentience? Not knowing suffering, not knowing the origin of suffering, not knowing the cessation of suffering, not knowing the way leading to the cessation of suffering. This is called insentience.
Last edited by DooDoot on Wed Aug 23, 2017 5:14 am, edited 2 times in total.

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SDC
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Re: Avijja translated as "Insentience"

Post by SDC » Tue Aug 22, 2017 4:29 pm

Bhante P's interpretations are heavily influenced by western psychology, so it would make sense that he would associate avija with "the unconscious" in the spirit of Freud's use of the term.

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CedarTree
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Re: Avijja translated as "Insentience"

Post by CedarTree » Tue Aug 22, 2017 10:21 pm

SDC wrote:Bhante P's interpretations are heavily influenced by western psychology, so it would make sense that he would associate avija with "the unconscious" in the spirit of Freud's use of the term.
That's a good tidbit to know, thanks :)


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SDC
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Re: Avijja translated as "Insentience"

Post by SDC » Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:35 pm

CedarTree wrote:
SDC wrote:Bhante P's interpretations are heavily influenced by western psychology, so it would make sense that he would associate avija with "the unconscious" in the spirit of Freud's use of the term.
That's a good tidbit to know, thanks :)
You're welcome, CT.

He is truly a remarkable monk, and despite drifting from his ideas in recent years, I had many rewarding years studying his work.

Garrib
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Re: Avijja translated as "Insentience"

Post by Garrib » Wed Aug 23, 2017 12:24 am

Thanks SDC,

Can you perhaps elaborate on what you've said? You think that Bhante P is equating the first link of DO with Freud's idea of the unconscious?

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CedarTree
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Re: Avijja translated as "Insentience"

Post by CedarTree » Wed Aug 23, 2017 12:38 am

SDC wrote:
CedarTree wrote:
SDC wrote:Bhante P's interpretations are heavily influenced by western psychology, so it would make sense that he would associate avija with "the unconscious" in the spirit of Freud's use of the term.
That's a good tidbit to know, thanks :)
You're welcome, CT.

He is truly a remarkable monk, and despite drifting from his ideas in recent years, I had many rewarding years studying his work.
Your the best what can I say.

But now I am curious on the whole "drifting from his ideas" point you raised.


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SDC
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Re: Avijja translated as "Insentience"

Post by SDC » Wed Aug 23, 2017 5:49 pm

Garrib wrote:Thanks SDC,

Can you perhaps elaborate on what you've said? You think that Bhante P is equating the first link of DO with Freud's idea of the unconscious?
Hi Garrib,

I have no reason to assume otherwise. While he does touch on aspects of atemporality à la Nanavira on the back six links of DO, his approach is primarily a psychological process model. Avija paccaya sankhara he described as, "From a state of complete unconsciousness, the mental process begins". Taking into account his reference to the Dhamma as psychotherapy, I think he is comfortable with, in the very least, allowing the puthujjana's ignorance (and suffering) to be equated with Freud's model of the human mind. (When dealing with the sottapana and beyond, I think he is more inclined to abandon it). I can't say for sure if there have been further developments in his views over the last fours years, since I am out of touch with his recent work, but that was the deal when I was involved.

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SDC
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Re: Avijja translated as "Insentience"

Post by SDC » Wed Aug 23, 2017 5:56 pm

CedarTree wrote: But now I am curious on the whole "drifting from his ideas" point you raised.
Have you ever seen the movie "Cast Away"? When Wilson fell out of the boat? It was sort of like that... :tongue:

I had many nagging questions that I was not ready to set aside, so I strayed...

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CedarTree
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Re: Avijja translated as "Insentience"

Post by CedarTree » Wed Aug 23, 2017 6:36 pm

SDC wrote:
CedarTree wrote: But now I am curious on the whole "drifting from his ideas" point you raised.
Have you ever seen the movie "Cast Away"? When Wilson fell out of the boat? It was sort of like that... :tongue:

I had many nagging questions that I was not ready to set aside, so I strayed...
You can not leave me in the dark like this! I can imagine I am not the only one very curious right now.

Details SDC! :meditate:


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aflatun
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Re: Avijja translated as "Insentience"

Post by aflatun » Wed Aug 23, 2017 6:56 pm

SDC wrote:
CedarTree wrote: But now I am curious on the whole "drifting from his ideas" point you raised.
Have you ever seen the movie "Cast Away"? When Wilson fell out of the boat? It was sort of like that... :tongue:

I had many nagging questions that I was not ready to set aside, so I strayed...
Lol That scene was epic!!! WILSON!

https://youtu.be/W7FLsIidvE8
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

DooDoot
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Re: Avijja translated as "Insentience"

Post by DooDoot » Wed Aug 23, 2017 9:16 pm

SDC wrote:Avija paccaya sankhara he described as, "From a state of complete unconsciousness, the mental process begins".
He did not say this in the video but seemed to infer this. If he has actually said this elsewhere then how can 'unconsciousness' fit into the text below?
Bhikkhus, dependent on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with contact as condition there arises a feeling felt as... neither-painful-nor-pleasant.... When one is touched by a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, if one does not understand as it actually is the origination, the disappearance, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in regard to that feeling, then the underlying tendency to ignorance lies within one (avijjānusayo anuseti). MN 148
Or this?
There are three taints: the taint of sensual desire, the taint of being and the taint of ignorance. With the arising of ignorance there is the arising of the taints. With the cessation of ignorance there is the cessation of the taints. ... With the arising of the taints there is the arising of ignorance. With the cessation of the taints there is the cessation of ignorance. MN 9
Or this?
On seeing a form with the eye, he lusts after it if it is pleasing; he dislikes it if it is unpleasing. He abides with mindfulness of the body unestablished, with a limited mind, and he does not understand as it actually is the deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom wherein those evil unwholesome states cease without remainder. MN 38

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SDC
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Re: Avijja translated as "Insentience"

Post by SDC » Wed Aug 23, 2017 9:29 pm

DooDoot wrote:
SDC wrote:Avija paccaya sankhara he described as, "From a state of complete unconsciousness, the mental process begins".
He did not say this in the video but seemed to infer this. If he has actually said this elsewhere then how can 'unconsciousness' fit into the text below?
What video? I was speaking about what I've heard him say in the past and was clear that I have been away from anything he has done for about the last four years. If you are looking for me to act as a representative of his work so you can do your thing to it, I have to disappoint you.

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Re: Avijja translated as "Insentience"

Post by SDC » Wed Aug 23, 2017 9:37 pm

aflatun wrote: Lol That scene was epic!!! WILSON!
Thanks for making me cry, dude...like life isn't hard enough. :tongue:

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SDC
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Re: Avijja translated as "Insentience"

Post by SDC » Wed Aug 23, 2017 10:01 pm

CedarTree wrote:You can not leave me in the dark like this! I can imagine I am not the only one very curious right now.

Details SDC! :meditate:
Depends on who you ask...if CNN were reporting on the matter, they would probably say that I became mired in dense prose and was never seen again. FOX News would say that the real SDC died trying to reach Antarctica to prove the flat earth theory and was replaced by a robot programmed to push existentialist philosophy as a suitable replacement for the Dhamma. It's really hard to say.

Garrib
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Re: Avijja translated as "Insentience"

Post by Garrib » Wed Aug 23, 2017 10:45 pm

I dont actually know much about Freud other than the basic intro stuff you get as an undergraduate w a non psych major. But I do know that Freud's use of the term translated as 'unconscious' does not imply that there is literally no consciousness, but that there are impulses and motives and psychic movements which we are not conscious of...perhaps Bhante P means that avijja is the state of being unconscious of these things, whereas direct knowledge of the Four Noble Truths allows us to see what is actually going on in the recesses of the mind, what is driving us and keeping us wandering on...??

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CedarTree
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Re: Avijja translated as "Insentience"

Post by CedarTree » Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:35 am

SDC wrote:
CedarTree wrote:You can not leave me in the dark like this! I can imagine I am not the only one very curious right now.

Details SDC! :meditate:
Depends on who you ask...if CNN were reporting on the matter, they would probably say that I became mired in dense prose and was never seen again. FOX News would say that the real SDC died trying to reach Antarctica to prove the flat earth theory and was replaced by a robot programmed to push existentialist philosophy as a suitable replacement for the Dhamma. It's really hard to say.
Lol that is such a cop out


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SDC
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Re: Avijja translated as "Insentience"

Post by SDC » Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:05 am

Garrib wrote:I dont actually know much about Freud other than the basic intro stuff you get as an undergraduate w a non psych major. But I do know that Freud's use of the term translated as 'unconscious' does not imply that there is literally no consciousness, but that there are impulses and motives and psychic movements which we are not conscious of...perhaps Bhante P means that avijja is the state of being unconscious of these things, whereas direct knowledge of the Four Noble Truths allows us to see what is actually going on in the recesses of the mind, what is driving us and keeping us wandering on...??
He stresses the use of the term "awakening" as if the puthujjana is in a state of sleep, so I think you're pretty close to the mark.

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